4 March 2016
For Immediate Release
Democracy denied again on TPPA
The Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade yesterday decided to deny an extension for submissions into their inquiry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
The spokesperson for It’s Our Future, Barry Coates commented: “There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who have taken action to express concern over the TPPA. They are being expected to prepare submissions on a complex international agreement of over 6000 pages within the time allowance of 20 working days. This makes a mockery of proper democratic process.”
“The allowance of a case-by-case basis for extension gives the power to the Committee to say yes to some submitters and no to others. That should not be acceptable in a democratic process.”
“Throughout six years of secrecy in negotiations, members of the public were assured there would be an opportunity for democratic debate and Parliamentary scrutiny. Instead, the process so far gives the impression of a rushed process to try to undertake the minimum scrutiny necessary and push the TPPA through as quickly as possible.”
The Trade Minister, Todd McClay, has said he was open to a longer time schedule for Parliamentary scrutiny, but this now appears to have been spin to allay public concern. The deadline for submissions comes before all but one of the 19 public information roadshows the government has planned.
Coates commented: “Despite saying there would be enough time for a democratic process, the government is now trying to force through the TPPA as fast as possible, with as little Parliamentary scrutiny as it can get away with. It makes no sense to set the deadline for submissions before the government’s planned information meetings.”
“The rushed process shows that the government is more interested in trying to sell the TPPA than in listening to valid concerns. But the public aren’t prepared to buy a bad deal. They want democratic process.”
It’s Our Future sent letters to the Select Committee on 28 February and 15 February laying out substantive reasons for an extension. There has been no response to the letter of 28 February. The Committee has not revealed how many submissions have been received but It’s Our Future is aware of around 2000 submissions having been sent to the Committee so far, including 200 original submissions from individuals and organisations.
Barry Coates, 021 365 165